Hartpury University and College has revealed plans to build the second phase of its pioneering Digital Innovation Farm.
The construction of a new Digital Innovation Farm Tech Box Park will see Hartpury further develop its 360-hectare campus and expand its range of agriculture facilities to meet the global demand for new technology in farming.
Due to launch later this year, the £2 million facility on the university’s campus near Gloucester will provide dedicated working space and support packages, access to Hartpury Farm and an extended farming network for practical trials, and feasibility testing across the county where businesses can explore, test, research and develop new products, or enhance existing ones.
Russell Marchant, Vice-Chancellor of Hartpury University and Principal of Hartpury College, said: “We are delighted that the next phase of our 10-year strategic vision to provide world-class agricultural facilities, education, and research at Hartpury is being realised.”
“This new ground-breaking facility will combine our commercial farm and strong industry connections with agri-technology companies to address the inevitable challenges of a robotic future.”
Funding for the Tech Box Park has been provided by the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership Getting Building Fund, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust.
Elizabeth Creak was born in Slough in 1926. She attended university in Canada before working for Allen Lane at Penguin Books in both the UK and America. She returned to the UK to work with her uncle, Clyde Higgs, on his two thousand acre dairy farm in Warwickshire. Prior to this, Clyde had also developed a four thousand acre farm in the foothills of Mount Kilamanjaro and held a number of other positions including: Managing Director of English Farms in Wiltshire; Agricultural correspondent of the BBC and Council Member of the Royal Agricultural Society.
David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, commented: “GFirst LEP is delighted to support this state-of-the-art and exciting project at Hartpury University and Hartpury College.
“The project has received funding of £1.25m from the ‘Getting Building Fund’ to create new innovation and demonstration workspace for high growth SMEs in Gloucestershire.
“Hartpury have proved to be a fantastic partner to work with and this project will lead the work of increasing productivity in this important sector for the county.”
Designed and manufactured by ISO Spaces, an award-winning designer and manufacturer of container conversions and modular buildings, the 10 x 40ft High-Cube Tech Box units will be created using environmentally friendly, repurposed shipping containers clad in cedar wood.
ISO Spaces Managing Director Ben Treleaven said: “We are delighted to bring Hartpury’s shipping container conversion project to life and very much look forward to delivering and installing the five bespoke containers to the heart of Hartpury’s commercial Home Farm.”
Nick Abell, trustee of The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, said: “As a charity dedicated to the future of farming, agricultural research and education, we want to support the creation of agri-tech spaces that drive change and solve ‘real world’ agricultural problems for the benefit of the wider agri-tech and food production industries.
“By providing funding for Hartpury’s ground-breaking Digital Innovation Farm Tech Box Park initiative, we are championing collaboration between industry, Hartpury University and College, and the next generation of farmers.
“We are all working together towards the vision of HM Government that the UK becomes a world leader in agricultural technology, innovation and sustainability.”
The first Digital Innovation Farm Tech Box Park Unit has been reserved by Novazera, a UK company that creates biodegradable plastic alternative products and anti-viral and bacterial coatings.
Novazera intend to use their residency as a technology sharing opportunity between themselves and Hartpury University to research, develop and test new products and technologies and to be at the forefront of “Making Life Safer” for Gloucestershire, the UK and beyond.
A spokesman for Novazera said: “The University’s academic and agri-tech staff and students provide a perfect opportunity for partnership for both organisations, and we look forward to developing more learning opportunities as well as innovative products and solutions.”
Hartpury has more than 4,000 college and university level students studying PhDs, postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, and diplomas in the areas of sport, equine, animal, agriculture and veterinary nursing, and A-levels.
Hartpury is the only institution in the UK with a college and university on one campus, meaning college students benefit from access to university-level expertise, facilities and opportunities.